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DECEMBER 2020

President Trump Signs Executive Order Temporarily Halting All Refugees

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US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order, which temporarily bans entry of refugees into the US territory.

President Trump Signs Executive Order Temporarily Halting All Refugees

US President Donald Trump (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

On Friday, US President Donald Trump signed a decree, which prohibits the arrival of refugees into the US from any country for 120 days, bans accommodation of Syrian refugees in the country for undefined period, and toughens up some rules of entry into the US.

During a ceremony of the decree’s signing in the Pentagon, Trump said that from now the vetting of immigrants would be “extreme.”

“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America,” the President said. “We don’t want them here,” Trump said of terrorists. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”

According to the Trump’s decree, the US Refugee Admissions Program is suspended for 120 days. In addition, the maximum number of refugees, which Trump allowed to take in the US, will be 50 million in the current fiscal year, which will end on September 30.

According to the US Department of State, since October 2016, when the fiscal year started, the US has taken a little less than 30,000 refugees. In this way, not more than 20,000 refugees will enter the US for the remainder of the year.

The Barack Obama’s administration, which stepped down a week ago, planned to take about 110,000 refugees from all over the world in 2017. In 2016 fiscal year, Washington placed on its territory 85,000 refugees, before, for three consecutive years, the US took up to 70,000 refugees per year.

At the same time, the Trump’s decree allows states and districts to take part in deciding where exactly to settle arriving refugees. A number of states pursued in court the Obama’s administration, as it settled refugees on their territory against the wishes of the local authorities.

In addition, Trump indefinitely banned to take into the US refugees from Syria.

“I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest,” the Trump’s decree reads.

In the last fiscal year, which ended in October 2016, the US accepted about 12,500 refugees from Syria. This number is tens times lower than the amount of asylum seekers, taken by some other countries, including Turkey and the EU member states.

However, the Trump’s decree has one loophole for possible increase in the number of refugees: when considering new applications, preference will be given to religious minorities, who are experiencing oppression, and in certain circumstances they can be accepted out of the quotas, in accordance with the US international obligations. On Friday, Trump said that he intends to help Syrian Christians. Representatives of Christian denominations and non-governmental organizations said that the Christian minority is under threat in many countries, especially in the Middle East. Vatican announced that up to 100,000 Christians per year become martyred for their faith.

At the same time, Trump did not make mention about “safe zones” in Syria, about possible creation of which he said this week.

Trump also ordered to immediately introduce a mandatory interview for nonimmigrant visas and expedite a process of creation of a biometric system to control people, arriving to the US.

In particular, the US Department of State was instructed to immediately cancel the program, which allows citizens of certain countries not to be interviewed in the US Consulate before the obtaining of a visa in a number of situations.

The Department of Homeland Security was charged to accelerate a process of creation and commissioning of a biometric system for tracking movements of all people, crossing the US border.

Also, the US government will request from other countries detailed information, which will allow thoroughly understand intentions of persons, who are going to enter the US. The decree does not disclose how exactly Washington intends to get this information from foreign governments, which are not obliged to report it. However, the decree mentions that all visa issues will be resolved on the basis of strict principle of mutuality. In practice, this means that if the US considers that Americans are infringed during the issuance of visas by other country, the US will apply the same measures and complicate the process of obtaining a visa for citizens of these countries.

In addition, Trump restricted the allowable period of stay in the US for persons from a number of countries, which population is predominantly Muslim, to 90 days, but did not name these countries. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association, whose experts were quoted by the Reuters news agency, the wording of the decree implies that this temporary ban touches the entry of citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

The decree also states that the US government will release the statistics on foreigners, accused of terrorism and violence against women.

During 180 days, information on the number of foreigners in the US, who are accused of crimes related to terrorism, and have been convicted or deported from the US for such crimes, will be published. In addition, estimates of how many foreigners in the US have become ‘radicals’ and helped terrorists from the territory of the US will be also released.

Information on the number of crimes against women, committed by foreigners in the US, including so-called ‘honor killings’ (murders of women for the fact that they entered into a sexual relationship or got married against wishes of their families or religious communities), will also be published.

Trump repeatedly said that foreigners in the US are guilty of crimes against women, including rapes. This caused numerous disputes in the community before and after the Trump’s election.

Opponents of the federal refugee resettlement program praised Trump’s actions.

“This is a great beginning, and much needed,” Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch told the Breitbart news website.

At the same time, the American Civil Liberties Union quickly issued a statement, criticizing the Trump’s order:

“‘Extreme vetting’ is just a euphemism for discrimination against Muslims. Identifying specific countries with Muslim majorities and carving out exceptions for minority religions flies in the face of the constitutional principle that bans the government from either favoring or discriminating against particular religions. Any effort to discriminate against Muslims and favor other religions runs afoul of the First Amendment.”

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a left wing pro-refugee and open borders group, also criticized the president’s executive order:

“Refugees are our coworkers, neighbors, friends, business owners, and community leaders. Regardless of where they come from – whether as a refugee or as an undocumented young person – everyone deserves to live with dignity, protected from harm,” Joshua Hoyt, the executive director of the NPNA said. “We oppose Trump’s unjust, un-American, and discriminatory steps to disgrace our history, beliefs, and values.”

The New York Times newspaper wrote that the decree is a “repudiation of fundamental American values, an abandonment of the United States’ role as a humanitarian leader and, far from protecting the country from extremism, a propaganda gift to those who would plot harm to America.”

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